The regular transit bus system in Vancouver is operated by Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC), with the exception of the Blue Buses in West Vancouver, which run under contract to TransLink and are fare-compatible with the other branches of the transportation industry managed by TransLink. CMBC also operates SeaBus, a passenger-only ferry across the Burrard Inlet. For destinations outside of Metro Vancouver, such as the ferry port, Vancouver Island, and destinations in the United States including SEA-TAC airport, several coachlines offer convenient longer-distance travel, including Greyhound Canada, Pacific Coach Lines, and Quick Shuttle.
CMBC has an extensive bus fleet, including electric trolley buses which produce zero emissions as they are powered solely by overhead electrical lines and a back-up battery. CMCB is committed to reducing its carbon footprint as a collective entity, and has recently updated its environmental policy to include such initiatives as developing an environmental management system, minimizing environmental impact through the reduction and prevention of pollution, integrating environmental factors into planning, and continually seeking to improve its environmental performance. CMBC is implementing the use of fully-biodegradable environmentally-friendly detergents to clean the buses and has already implemented a water-saving method of washing down the buses that uses less than 2 liters of water per bus. This eliminates the need for bus idling to dry out wet areas (formerly necessary when the bus was hosed down), thus drastically reducing the overall company carbon footprint. CMBC also utilizes a comprehensive recycling/waste management program to reduce the amount of waste sent to the landfill. All diesel buses now run on a 5% biodiesel fuel and new hybrid diesel-electric buses have recently been acquired. Energy Audits will be conducted at the various depots, to identify areas requiring energy upgrades and/or improvement in equipment and practice.
Besides the electric trolley buses, all of which are newer, upgraded models, the fleet consists of articulated (regular 40-foot bus plus 20-foot extension joined together) and non-articulated buses (both diesel and trolley), community shuttle buses used for shorter trips through areas of dense population, and highway coaches used for longer-distance travel. SeaBus has three catamaran ferries, one of which was recently purchased. There are currently 7 transit centers in locations throughout Metro Vancouver and SeaBus is headquartered in North Vancouver:
- Vancouver Transit Centre, 9149 Hudson Street, Vancouver
- Burnaby Transit Centre, 3855 Kitchener St., Burnaby
- North Vancouver Transit Centre, 536 E. 3rd St., North Vancouver
- Surrey Transit Centre, 7740 – 132nd St, Surrey
- Port Coquitlam Transit Centre, 2061 Kingsway Ave., Port Coquitlam
- Richmond Transit Centre, 11133 Coppersmith Way, Richmond
- Oakridge Transit Centre, 949 W. 41st Ave, Vancouver (only for Community Shuttle Buses)
- SeaBus, 2 Chesterfield Place, North Vancouver
There are 180 bus routes within the greater Vancouver area, making convenient transit never more than a few minutes away. Some of the 8,000 bus stops are being upgraded to feature digital schedule displays with real-time transit information. Another extremely convenient feature is the Next Bus Info service, which texts the next 6 scheduled buses to your cell phone. Here is how it works:
- Find your stop number (5-digit number at the top right hand corner of the bus stop sign, in yellow).
- Send a text message with your 5-digit bus stop number to 33333. The next 6 scheduled buses for that particular bus stop will be displayed on your phone within a few seconds. If you want information for a particular route only, add the route number to the text message before sending. You’ll get a text message back with the next 6 scheduled buses for that particular route, arriving at that particular bus stop.
- For example, you want to know the next bus for bus stop number 50043. You send a text message with 50043 to 33333. Within seconds you receive a text message back with a list of the next 6 scheduled buses for that stop: (022) [#22 bus route] 11:22 a, 11:34 a, 11:46 a (002) [#2 bus route] 11:28 a, 11:43 a (044) [#44 bus route] 11:31 a.
If you include a particular bus route number in your text message, you would get back information for that route only: send a text message with 50043 22 to 33333. Within seconds you receive a message back with this information: (022) [#22 bus route] 11:34 a, 11:46 a, 11:58 a, 12:10 p, 12:22 p, 12:34 p.
In this way you will always know when the next bus should be arriving, for bus stops without digital schedule displays.
Fares for CMBC buses and for SeaBus are the same as for SkyTrain depending on whether you are traveling across one, two, or three zones (SeaBus spans two zones). As of 2008, fares range in price from $2.50 to $5.00 for adult fares, and from $1.75 to $3.50 for concession fares (for children, secondary students with a valid GoCard, seniors, and disabled patrons). Children 4 and under ride for free. A GoCard is a photographic identification card issued by the provincial government for all high school students and entitles the holder to concession fares. Schools issue GoCards to students as soon as school photographs are taken in September. GoCards are acceptable identification until students obtain a valid driver’s license. If you don’t have a pass, or are not using a transfer ticket (if you purchased fare on another bus or a SkyTrain within the last 90 minutes), you must pay for your bus ride with exact coinage which is deposited in the fare box onboard the bus. Once you deposit your fare, you will receive a ticket which is valid for the next 90 minutes. Transit 101 is a video blog offering a walk-through of basic transit information and procedure, from TransLink: http://www.translink.ca/en/Rider-Info/Transit-101.aspx. All three video blogs contain very useful information for newcomers to the area.
Complete information on bus routes, schedules, and maps can be found on TransLink’s website: http://www.translink.bc.ca/. The Trip Planner, located on the home page, is very useful for finding out which bus or SkyTrain you can catch to your destination, and how long it will take to get there. The Planner provides several alternate routes, so you can choose the one most convenient for you. The same utility also provides information on the next bus, and a complete transit system map.
Information for Blue Bus in West Vancouver is integrated into TransLink’s website, but you can also access information about Blue Bus from the District of West Vancouver website: http://www.westvancouver.net/Residents/Level3.aspx?id=2152. There is one Blue Bus transit center, located in North Vancouver:
West Vancouver Blue Bus Transit, 221 Lloyd Avenue, North Vancouver
HandyDART (for disabled passenger)
All CMBC vehicles, including SeaBus, are 100% accessible, which means that they are able to fully-accommodate disabled and physically challenged passengers. A designated section is available onboard all buses for wheelchairs and scooters, with safety belts and Transit Operator-assistance available. Each bus can accommodate up to two wheelchairs or scooters. HandyDART is a service provided by TransLink, now operated by Access Transit, which offers door-to-door public transportation for those unable to use public transit without assistance (for those unable to travel on public transit alone). HandyDART will pick you up at your home and drop you off at your destination. If you are interested in using HandyDART, please complete an application form, found here: http://www.translink.ca/~/media/Documents/Rider%20Info/HandyDart_Card/2009%20HandyDARTHandyCARD%20Application%20Form.ashx. You can also contact Access Transit directly: 778-452-2860. HandyDART offers two types of trips: subscription trips which are taken on a regular basis, and casual trips, taken on a one-time basis. To book a trip on HandyDART, please call 604-575-6600.
CMBC buses are also equipped with bike racks, and each bus can accommodate up to two bikes. Bikes are allowed on buses any time of day, with the exception of Community Shuttle buses, which cannot carry bikes after dark. Directly from TransLink’s website, here some tips for a smooth and safe transit ride with your bike:
Loading and Unloading Your Bike
Here’s how to load and unload your bike:
- Before the bus arrives, remove loose items such as water bottles, pumps, and panniers.
- Tell the driver you want to load your bike, and then lower the bike rack by pulling on the handle.
- Lift your bike onto the rack.
- Lift the support arm up and over the front tire.
- Sit at the front of the bus and keep an eye on your bike.
- When leaving the bus, please tell the driver that you need to remove your bike. Exit from the front door.
- Remove your bike and raise the rack to the upright position.
Play it Safe
- Always load and unload on the curb side of the street. Don’t step into oncoming traffic.
- Never use a personal lock and/or chain to secure your bike to the bus rack. For increased security, you may want to lock together your bike frame and one of the bike’s wheels. (Please put the lock on before the bus arrives).
- When you remove your bike, remember to put the rack back into the upright position if it’s empty. Bus drivers can’t see an empty rack.
- You’re responsible for properly loading and unloading your bike. Neither TransLink nor its operating subsidiaries are liable for any property damage or bodily harm caused by the loading and unloading of bikes.
Customer service numbers and websites for Coast Mountain and Blue Bus are as follows:
Customer Information—604-953-3333 (6:30 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. daily)
Customer Relations—604-953-3040 (8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday)
Lost Property—604-682-7887 or email: email@example.com
Greyhound Canada can transport you to destinations within Canada or to the United States. Further information can be found on their website: http://greyhound.ca/home/. Tickets can be purchased online, over the phone at 1-800-661-8747, or directly from a Greyhound Terminal or agency (authorized independent agents).
Pacific Coach Lines provides convenient travel between Vancouver and Whistler or Victoria. More information can be found here: http://www.pacificcoach.com/. For reservations and further information please call 1-800-661-1725.
Quick Shuttle provides transportation to and from SEA-TAC airport. More complete information can be found on their website: http://www.quickcoach.com/. Tickets can be purchased online, over the phone at 1-800-665-2122 or 604-940-4428, or directly from the driver.